Tag Archives: race

come on out to the Light Skin vs. Dark Skin party!

first, let me state that this is A REAL EXISTING THING happening in columbus, ohio on january 21st.  this flier made it’s rounds around Twitter yesterday courtesy of steenfox.

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Mel Gibson needs to hire some kittens.

so batshit Mel Gibson went a little bit batshittier in the days that i havent been updating.  im sure yall know that so we won’t go over the details.

but the homie young h of go in radio tweeted me a gem over the twitter earlier today and a lightbulb brighter than a thousand suns exploded over my head.  this is it!  here’s the answer!  from here on out, Mel Gibson, whenever you open your mouth to say any gotdamned thing, or when you have to respond to something else dumb and criminal that you’ve said:  say it with kittens.  straight up.  i mean you’ll still look like a dick with a chemical imbalance, but at least you’ll be able to make some people say ‘awwwww!’ in the process.

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…But Tell It Slant.

*note:  this blog isn’t about me, of course, but below is a personal story of my time in college.  this is an entry that took me over a month to write for PostBourgie.  click here to check out the entry and comments there.


I have had the most difficult time writing this article.  It took me the whole of Confederate History Month (known also as April) to do.

I figured it was just  because I’m over-thinking, as I always do, bending far too often to the little internal editor who keeps reminding me that my language isn’t vivid enough, that I’m being repetitive, that my metaphors are corny and I should erase my last five lines and start over again.  I was five pages of rambling notes and decapitated paragraphs in when I realized that I’m struggling so much because this is a story that I’m tired of telling.  I’ve been trying to write it down since I graduated from college in 2004 and I am weary of the words.  I screamed them vainly from my freshman year to my senior, and once I left the campus for good, diploma in hand, I decided I would just shut up about it for awhile.  I was drained.  Even now, six years later, it’s hard.

I went to a very small, very white private liberal arts school in Lexington, KY—when I began in the fall of 2000, 20 of the total 1,100 students were black (including me).  That was a record, the most in 220 years of the school’s existence.  I didn’t visit the campus before I committed to attend.  They offered me a scholarship and it had a good academic reputation within the state, and that was good enough for me.  The first thing I remember seeing after pulling into the main parking lot in the middle of the dorms is a building with a solid row of Confederate flags hanging in each and every window of its second floor.

That building was the boy’s dormitory.  The school, being so small, didn’t have the space or demand for Greek housing, so they had Greek halls instead, one hall for each frat and sorority in the two largest dorms.  The second floor of the dorm, the one with the Confederate flags in the windows, was the Kappa Alpha hall.  I instinctively stayed away from KAs, as they were called, after finding out that they were the owners of all the flags, and doubly so after I heard about the frat being founded by Robert E. Lee, and triply so when it was mentioned that they were dedicated to “traditional Southern values and traditions.”  (It turns out that it was not, as rumored, founded by Robert E. Lee—he was, however, named as the fraternity’s  “spiritual founder” 1923.)

The KAs weren’t the worst part; the campus was thoroughly littered with crumbs of this “traditional South.”  The dorm that housed the KAs was called Jefferson Davis Hall, so named after the president of the Confederacy.  There was an absolutely gigantic portrait of him in the lobby of the dorm and a too-large bust of him in the library.  It didn’t help that the campus itself was terrifyingly beautiful.  The school’s administration building (which was used as a hospital for Union soldiers during the Civil War) is a large, stately, blindingly white building with Romanesque columns that jutted endlessly towards the sky, which seemed perpetually blue, even in rain.  It sat atop the roundest, greenest hill you’ve ever seen in your life, and at its bottom was a wide arch of grassy land lined with exploding dogwoods and the world’s saddest willows, sweeping their narratives into the ground below.  It made me nervous.  It looked a little too much like the set of Gone with the Wind for me to enjoy it, especially with the rest of the Confederate residue clinging about, both on campus and off—there was a nameless, faceless Lexingtonian who made a hobby of riding around downtown in a bulbous red pickup truck flying a full sized Confederate flag in its bed and laying on his horn, which (of course) played “Dixie.” There was no escape from it for me.  I used to joke that I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw an actual Confederate soldier walking through campus, feeling right at home.  I was wrong.

He was dressed from ankle to Adam’s Apple in pale blue beneath a long wool coat with dull gold buttons on the breast and a cap to match.  I shrugged it off, not wanting to believe what I already knew—that I really did just see one of my fellow students dressed as a Confederate soldier.  I later learned later that it was a KA in costume to celebrate the end of something called Old South Week.  This at least explained why I was awakened to a bunch of shirtless boys waving rebel flags screaming the words to “Dixie” underneath one of the weeping willows a few nights before (Editor’s note:  This actually happened).  From what I understood, Old South Week was a KA function, a weeklong celebration of old Southern customs and traditions, which included boys dressed as soldiers, girls dressed as delicate, magnolia-scented Southern belles in lace chokers and hoop skirts, and beer.  Lots and lots of beer.  I later heard stories of some outrageously offensive pranks pulled during Old South week at other schools; the one that sticks out most sharply in my memory is one where celebrating students dumped cotton balls all over a grassy campus lawn so that the janitorial staff, which was all-black, would have to bend over and pick them up while they walked through in their costumes, taking pictures.

I couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I would have seen something like that.  I didn’t fully know what to do with what I had seen.  I was angry.  I was incredulous.  I felt unsafe.  And when no one cared, I felt invisible and insignificant.

We tried to talk about it.  Teachers held in-class discussions about the matter and the general state of race relations on campus (a few professors actually had me come and sit in on these discussions because there were no other black students in their classes to present “our side”).  We tried to hold campus-wide forums on it, but no one showed up but us black students, the ones who so desperately wanted to tell the ones draped in the Confederate flag what it did to us and why it was important to consider everything that flag stood for, not just chivalry and wrap-around porches and hayrides and sweet tea.  I wrote about it and had quite a few pieces on race on campus published in the school paper.  On more than one occasion, I found my articles ripped out of newspapers and taped on walls with things like “A GREAT EXAMPLE OF IGNORANCE” scrawled across them in permanent marker.

The majority of the campus maintained that they weren’t celebrating anything hateful.  They were simply paying homage to their Southern heritage (as if we, too, were not Southern), honoring their roots, showing their appreciation for where they came from.  But what kind of place was that?  If I were to participate in Old South Week, what kind of costume would I wear?  Would I be on a wrap-around porch with ruffles around my neck enjoying a mint julep, or sweating the day away in the campus kitchen?  Why didn’t that matter to anyone?

This is the problem with the slant telling of history:  excluding something or someone sends the message that that something or someone is not important.  I can understand the kids on campus not wanting to include slavery in the celebration because it’s kind of a wet blanket.  Still, the answer isn’t in simply ignoring it.  When you acknowledge history, you don’t get to pick and choose.  In erasing from the past, you symbolically erase from the present.  All of the discussions we had lead to nowhere; whenever the issue was brought up, those on the opposing side clung to their “heritage, not hate” posters, and they eventually stopped talking about it altogether.  That’s what hurt the most; no one even tried to see our side.  Nobody cared how those Confederate flags made us feel or entertained the idea that they could have meant something different to us.  The message we carried from that:  we didn’t matter.  We were insignificant.

The event was ultimately moved off campus, but I didn’t consider that a victory.  It was a decision made by the administration and challenged by many of the students, and when it was all over, they felt like the victims, the ones punished, penalized, and inconvenienced by slavery, a beast that breathed, in their opinion, because we kept it alive.  Slavery was so many years ago, they said.  I’ve never personally owned a slave.  Let it go.  Just let it go already.

To them, letting it go meant ignoring it.  To us, letting it go meant finally having our concerns and issues being seen as valid, finally feeling understood.

As of now, I’m still holding on, waiting for the chance to let it go.

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in case you missed this

and you probably did-

my dorkalicious friend Adam left the following comment after one of the responses from the entry on race, humor, and subjectivity.  i thought it was too funny to  let lie in the boneyard.

——–

Yes, I agree. Humor has no place in advancing social justice; in fact its logical endpoint can be only fascism. Every social critic is fond of citing the fact that Hitler came to power through democracy, but few recall that this man ended every marathon speech with a “got yer nose” perpetrated on the nearest diplomat, to mammoth laughter. In fact, the first vote he ever won was in an amateur comedy night competition as the one-man improv comedy troupe “Just in the (Mu)Nich of Time”.

Also, I resent the fact that your use of the “Mc” suffix implies that people of scotch-Irish decent are poor and unthrifty with finance. Refer to Gangs of New York, my friend! And I’ll have you (and all my detractors!) know that haggis-based currency will rise again!

LOL.

Lite Bread, looks like you got some competition for best white commenting dude!

Dear John.

hey, boo.  it’s me, Brokey.

i don’t know if you know it yet or not, but you got the Internets in a bit of a tizzy with that little thing you said in your Playboy interview.  you know, the part about your dick being a white supremacist when it comes to the women you relate with, biblically.  you know what i’m talkin about.  yeah, people didn’t take that too kindly.

well, i mean, look.  i’m an asshole.  i make assholish jokes all the time.  mostly people get them, but sometimes they don’t, and are offended.  i have a feeling that in stating your personal preference (its fine to have a personal pref, btw; i myself, for example, want nothing to do with the French) you made a joke that came off sort of really offensive to SOME black folk.  i won’t say all.  but some.  and i can understand why they’d be offended.

but anyway, the point of this letter is this:  my twitter account is private, and since you’re not following me, you missed all of this.  i’m of the personal opinion that all you need is some good grade A African ancestral vagina to show your penis the the devil in it’s soul and get it to change it’s KKKish ways.  so, in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther the King, i am willing to take one for my team and put it on you *right.*  i’m pretty sure that my Iron Maiden can show your peen the truth and the light.  i’m willing to do this because it’s what Dr. King would have wanted.

per the discussion you couldn’t see on Twitter, a night spent doing the grownup with me will have you doing each or any combination of the following:

  • singin ‘we shall overcome’ when it’s over
  • naming your 1st born daughter Kujichagulia Assata Angelou
  • renaming yourself El-John Malik El-Shabazz
  • doin free concerts for Centric and TV One
  • running for president on the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition ticket
  • tattooing a vintage ‘COLORED ONLY’ sign on your penis
  • designing the cover of your next album in nothin but kente cloth
  • naming said album ‘WAKE UP, WHITEY’

now i’m not saying that my cooter is life changing, but.  i guess that kind of is what i’m saying.  *kanye shrug*

i implore everyone to join me in this endeavor in honor of black history month.  teach the oppressor your name–and make him/her scream it.

umoja!

love,

Brokey “I’m Lightskinnt But I Still Count” McPoverty

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White Dude Sues to be African-American, Blacks Everywhere are Like ‘wtf?’

May 13, 2009 — NEWARK, N.J.:  African-born Paulo Serodio is suing the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark after what he calls a snowball of traumatic events that began in 2006, when he identified himself as a “white African-American” during an exercise in a clinical skills course taught by Dr. Kathy Ann Duncan. This drew several complaints from the black students in the classroom who found Serodio’s claim of being African-American to be offensive.

Serodio, who is Portuguese, was born in Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa; his great-grandfather emigrated to the region years before, and Serodio moved to the United States in 1984 to study to become a doctor.

In the months following the exercise in Dr. Duncan’s class, Serodio was the subject of many complaints from black students on campu, due largely to articles and online postings written by Serodio defending his right to call himself a white African-American.  All the run-ins eventually culminated in his suspension from the school, and Serodio is now suing the institution.

When the story broke, we contacted Byron ‘Man-Man’ Jones, an inmate currently serving 5-10 years at Rikers after being convicted of first degree robbery.

“Naw, man, that [expletive] is crazy,” he said;  “African-American is what got my black ass in here in the first place!  For some [expletive] I ain’t(sic) even do!”  Asked to elaborate, we learned that Byron believes that he was wrongfully convicted of the crime in question.

“Man, listen.  I’m walkin’ down the street after leavin’ my job and the cops just come up and bust me in my head, talkin’ bout I fit the description.  I said yo, man!  What description!  And you know what they said?  ‘African-American.’  And that’s it!'”

Another Jersey resident weighed in on the matter.  “Well, on the one hand, I can see where he’s coming from, but honestly, when I sit back and think about it…there may be advantages to people not knowing that you’re African-American.”  She paused to take a phone call before she resumed speaking.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “another ‘thanks, but no thanks.  I’ve been job searching for months.  You’d think that someone with a master’s in urban planning from Rutgers would have little problem finding a job, but it’s been a struggle.”

Asked what she thought the problem was, she said:  “My name is La’Quintranequetta Lovettanay Jenkins.  See why sometimes it’s better that folks don’t know??  I can’t BUY a freakin’ interview!!”

(c) The Impoverished Times

“1/16th” rule no longer applies; world skips forward holding hands. sometimes.

August 26, 2008–BIRMINGHAM, U.K.: It seems that the tide continues to turn all across the world. 40 years ago in America, black preachers were having their houses and churches firebombed, their families terrorized, and they themselves were shot and killed like dogs in the streets. Now, in 2008, a black man stands an honest, viable chance at becoming president of the nation, complete with the support of much of the free world. Whether people see it as a positive or negative thing, everyone can agree that this is a hugely siginifant time in American history.
 
“I can’t believe it!” said Lauren Quails, a student at the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. “We’re really going places now!” Her mother, Delta Quails, agrees… sort of. “Yeah, we’re goin places.  To hell in a handbasket,” she says with hushed tone and furrowed brow. To them both, though, it’s a big deal. And not just in America. People nationwide are opening their arms to presidential hopeful Barack Obama, a black man with a Muslim name.
“A black man with a Muslim name.” Something in that description doesn’t sit well with a growing number of white people. And this time, it’s not what you think. 
“Can I just say Obama is mixed race and anyone that says… that he is African American are[sic] racist,” says Marko on a messageboard in the UK. “He is half European as well.”
As they say in the movies, this changes everything. This wave of white Americans and Europeans wanting to declassify Barack Obama as a black man stands in stark contrast to the centuries old, tacit “1/16th” or “one drop” rule in America that stated that all it took was one drop (or 1/16th) of black blood to legally classify a person as black. Though this rule may not be in lawbooks today, its effects are still clearly felt and seen in today’s world. Those with any African lineage are typically considered black, particularly if they have any sort of black of African features. Look at popular culture, as an example: Halle Berry, Philip Michael ThomasLenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys, Mario Van PeeblesVanessa Williams, Bob Marley, and Malcolm X are all classified as or presumed to be black. Why the sudden change?
“Basically, we want in on this too,” said Chadworth Keystone of the Bureau of Things that are Important to White People in Hartford, Connecticut. “Barack Obama is a great man, you know. He is clearly… he’s clearly just, just wow, you know? He dresses awesome, and he speaks so well and.. he’s just awesome, and so we want a piece of that. And since his mom was white, then technically we already have a piece of that, and it’s not fair that people overlook that, it’s just not fair.  Not to him or us!  We helped make that, and he shouldn’t have to choose!  Also, if we make him white, then it makes it a lot easier for us to deal with our wives wanting to sleep with him.”

Not white enough to make white people care.

Corey Clark: Not important enough to make white people care.

What about Corey Clark, we asked him, the bi-racial (black and white) American Idol star kicked off the show for domestic violence and drug charges who later claimed that he had an affair with judge Paula Abdul? Is he white?

“Uhh… Well, I mean, you know. He’s.. he doesn’t really look.. um.. is that the phone? I think I hear the phone, I need to take this.” He then proceeded to pick up a television remote control and hold it to his ear and sat as if waiting for us to leave. When we pointed out that he was not, in fact, holding a telephone, he screamed “GO AWAY!” and shut his eyes tightly, refusing to open them again.

We asked Leroy Brown, a Chicago mechanic, what he thought about this new phenomenon of whites demanding that Obama not be black. “Ain’t sh*t new,” he said. “White folk can’t let niggas have nothin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© The Impoverished Times

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